On June 5, an alarm pierced the evening silence at CareLink’s New Jersey A+ apartment complex in Clementon. A program participant had just turned in for the night when she was startled by the sound.

Maybe it’s a fire drill, she thought. When she walked down to the staff office and asked Residential Counselor LaToya Robinson about the alarm, LaToya responded that there wasn’t a fire drill scheduled. The two returned to the apartment to investigate.

CareLink’s New Jersey A+ apartment complex in Clementon.

A smoke detector was going off inside the apartment. LaToya asked about the resident’s roommate, and the resident said she thought she was asleep. When LaToya knocked on the roommate’s bedroom door, it felt warm. She opened the door and immediately saw fire. The roommate was in bed, unable to escape.

LaToya called 911 and alerted Residential Counselor Deltraye (“Traye”) Smith. Traye and a building maintenance worker, who also lived in the complex, each grabbed a fire extinguisher and started dousing the flames until firefighters arrived. Staff later found out that another participant had also called 911.

The roommate was rescued from her bedroom and other CareLink residents evacuated. New Jersey Regional Director Jen Petro arrived on the scene while the fire marshals were inspecting the apartment.

“Everyone involved in responding to the fire was a hero that night—the resident who alerted staff, the resident who called 911, LaToya, Traye, the maintenance worker, and the firefighters,” Jen said. “It would have been much worse if the resident hadn’t alerted staff or if Traye hadn’t started to put out the flames.”

While the fire and water damage wasn’t as extensive as it might have been, the apartment is undergoing a full renovation. In the meantime, the resident who alerted staff to the fire has been temporarily transferred to another apartment. Her roommate is receiving medical care as she recovers from burns and smoke inhalation.

”This incident is a great example of how much our staff cares and how they work together to solve problems,” Jen explained. “The quick thinking and decisive action on the part of our dedicated team truly saved lives.”

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